The Pull List – August 25th

I was out of town all week, but I managed to pick up comics this week nonetheless.

Justice League: Generation Lost #8: Yeah, this is Winick’s gig now, no Giffen, which makes me quite sad (but has me hoping that Booster Gold will now move away from a parallel storyline with this title and go off in a new direction). The book’s not bad, and Lopresti’s art is great as always, but there is something just a little too rote about the proceedings. The reveal at the end isn’t telegraphed or anything, but it’s pretty obvious nonetheless; there is some good interaction going on between Fire and Rocket Red here, though.

Wonder Woman #602: Diana cuts loose on some soldiers and does some serious damage, finds some Amazons, and learns a little bit about sacrifice. It’s a decent issue and not as heavy on exposition as I feared it would be (it’s nice seeing Straczynski jump into action this early instead of having everyone spend the issue sitting around talking), but I’m still not sold on this “all-new Wonder Woman.”

Astonishing X-Men #35: This issue (finally) wraps up this storyline (and probably the series as a whole, since they’re switching the Astonishing line to mini-series), and while the art is good and there are some great Ellis lines (“Don’t be such a baby. You’ll almost definitely probably not die this time”), the whole reveal of who the “villain” is seems weak after the build-up we’ve had, and the whole thing just seems…kinda meh.

Detective Comics #868: Part Two of Impostors features more great art from Scott McDaniel, but the story itself is leaving me cold. I think my biggest problem is that it makes Batman seem ineffectual. That doesn’t really jive with everything we’ve seen about Dick Grayson (both as Nightwing and as Batman), and he seems to mostly be sitting around wringing his hands going, “Well, golly, I wish we could do something about all this.” We’ll have to see where it goes from here.

Batman #702: Part Two of Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel’s look at what happens between the end of Batman RIP and Batman’s crisis in time during Final Crisis. This is a pretty good issue, doing more than just filling in gaps: we get some nice mythology with the “God Bullet” that Batman shot Darkseid with in Final Crisis, further details on what the Omega Sanction actually is, and what’s happening to Bruce Wayne right now. It’s pretty cool, though I still really do not care for Daniel’s art.

Action Comics #892: This comic continues to be awesome. Luthor goes head to head with Deathstroke, finds some black ring energy, and basically proves that he’s pretty awesome. I really like the focus on Luthor as a character in his own right rather than as an arch-nemesis for Superman. Cornell and Woods are knocking this one out of the park.

Prince of Power #4: This issue concludes the mini-series and sets up the coming Chaos War. We get Amadeus Cho’s finest hour, a knock-down fight between Delphyne and Atalanta, and a (not-unexpected) return. This was really a perfect comic, with humor, epic battles, and some great character moments. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in this saga.

I didn’t grab any trades when I was at the comic shop this week, but I did order the first deluxe volume of Ex Machina and the fourth volume of Walt Simonson’s Thor from Amazon. I’ve started in on Ex Machina, which seems pretty cool, and you really can’t go wrong with Simonson’s Thor.

The Pull List – July 14th, July 21st, & July 28th

So, long time out of commission, I know, but I picked up all my comics yesterday and today and managed to read ’em all already, so let’s see what’s been going on, shall we?

Batman #701: Grant Morrison reunites with artist Tony Daniel to tell the “Lost Chapter” between the end of R.I.P. and Batman’s “death” in Final Crisis. As with R.I.P., I don’t really care at all for Tony Daniel’s art. It’s too sketchy, too lacking in polish, too inconsistent. It mostly deals with Batman trying to figure out whether or not Dr. Hurt survived the helicopter crash at the end of R.I.P. (which anyone who’s been reading Batman & Robin knows he, y’know, did) and decide whether or not Hurt is who he claims to be. This seems like a pretty inconsequential story, honestly, and I’m not sure why Morrison felt it was necessary to do it. It’s not exactly bad, per se, but unnecessary.

Justice League: Generation Lost #5 & 6: Issue 5 gives us the reconstituted JLI standing around trying to decide whether or not to go after Maxwell Lord (they decide to, of course) Issue 6 deals with Captain Atom jumping into the future after absorbing too much energy and jumping into the future, where he discovers that if they don’t stop Max, things’re gonna get real bad. We’re about a quarter of the way through the series now, and we really haven’t seen much happen as of yet. It’s all been setup, getting characters into place, establishing motivation, and making Max not just a credible threat, but someone who really needs to be stopped to prevent something horrible from happening to the world.

Booster Gold #34: Booster goes back to the ol’ JLI days again to try once more to get evidence to pin on Maxwell Lord and prove to everyone that Max even exists. Booster spends a good chunk of the issue ruminating on the fact that he’s not the same guy he was back then, and his sister and the young child he rescued from the future spend some time getting to know each other. Giffen steps in and pencils a couple of pages this issue, and the shift between his work and Batista’s is pretty significant. Overall, it’s another solid issue from this creative team.

Invincible Iron Man #28: Posturing between Iron Man and Mrs. Hammer, more folks get hired for Stark Resilient, and Tony starts to tie some things together. This comic is on a slow build, but Fraction’s payoffs are usually pretty solid, so I’m willing to ride out the talky issues in anticipation of those payoffs.

Deadpool #25: Cross and double-cross, switched identities and changing alliances…I’m not really quite sure what the point of those particular storyline was, though it does seem to set up a new (albeit temporary, I’m sure) status quo for Deadpool as a guy with a (gasp!) job. It lacked the manic energy and non-stop gags we usually get in the Deadpool book, but the backup story (written by Duane Swierczynski) is pretty awesome (and the first time I’ve really enjoyed the “Pool-o-Vision” gag).

Green Hornet: Year One #4: In the past, the Green Hornet and Kato arrive in the United States, while in the present (well, 1938, at any rate) they continue their assault on Chicago’s mobsters. There’s some decent character work here by Matt Wagner, and Aaron Campbell’s art remains moody and fitting for the time period and subject matter.

Atlas #3: I was tremendously sad to hear that this title will be canceled after issue 5, as I’m really digging the story. Bad guys that can possess people’s bodies, a legacy hero who’s the only one who can see them, and some great art and well-crafted dialogue make this a solid book. The back-up story, featuring more detail about the origin of M-11, is also solid, though it just adds more details to what we already know.

Prince of Power #3: Amadeus Cho and Thor go into the Egyptian Underworld in search of the next piece of the recipe for eternal life, only to find that they’ve played right into Vali Halfling’s plans. The trademark humor and sight gags are in place and as hilarious as ever, and the lioness goddess of destruction turning into a LOLcat is pretty damn hysterical. It’ll be interesting to see how they wrap this up next month and set the stage for the Chaos War.

Welcome To Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #1: This mini picks up right where the second collection left off. Mayor Fury is released from prison, and Sheriff Thomasina Lindo doesn’t seem to be too happy about it. Simone builds on previous Tranquility stories, teasing out existing stories and characters and setting up some new plot lines. The return of a character at the end of the issue is a nice twist, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes next. Horacio Domingues’s art is decent and not too far off from Neil Googe’s style, though some of the lines seem too thick and make the characters come across as too blocky and kind of blurry.

Birds of Prey #3: I’d love to say this issue was fantastic, but there was a printing error and the middle 1/3 of the issue was actually from an issue of Batgirl. This is clearly another “nothing is as it really seems” sort of issue, and I’m more than happy to wait and see what Simone has planned, but I really do wish I could have read all of the issue (it’s pretty clear that there’s some important plot points in those missing pages).

Wonder Woman #601: This issue kicks off JMS’s Wonder Woman run, and it really just picks up right where the prologue in Wonder Woman #600 left off. Every vibe I get from this book is that this major status quo change has to be temporary; the very dialogue in this issue indicates that things shouldn’t be this way and that success will be measured by achieving a revival of the old status quo. All that being said, this isn’t a bad issue; there’s actually some plot developed (and not just in the plot dump/exposition vein of things), Wonder Woman finds her motivation and purpose, and we’re introduced to a shadowy new villain.

Action Comics #891: Mister Mind, that worm with a big brain, attempts to trap Luthor in his own fantasies so he can do…something to Luthor’s brain. For someone we don’t know. The worm fails, because you just don’t mess with Luthor’s mind, but the fantasies themselves are fantastic (Luthor as Dr. Frankenstein, a gunman in the wild west, and as a caveman stealing fire from the gods a la Prometheus). Cornell and Woods are really knocking this one out of the park.

Detective Comics #867: David Hine continues his run on Detective, this time with art from Scott McDaniel. McDaniel’s art is cartoony and recalls the old Batman: The Animated Series look without being a slave to it. He also manages to maintain a strong sense of kinetic energy and good storytelling mechanics. The only real problem with the story is that it’s pretty mundane: a group called the Jokerz are using a variation on the old Joker Venom running around causing trouble, and Batman and the GCPD are trying to stop them using minimal force. When a cop gets killed in retaliation for a dead member of the Jokerz, things get strained, and an impostor pops up at the end that will definitely cause trouble next issue. It’s standard fare, but well-crafted.

Batman: The Widening Gyre #6: This is the first half of Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan’s planned twelve issues, and it’s a double-sized issue that ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. We get plenty of action, some nice interaction between Batman and Silver St. Cloud, and a surprise marriage proposal. The twist at the end I’d actually pegged well before it came around (if you’ve read Smith’s previous Batman min, Cacophony, you probably spotted it early, too), and there’s a tragedy that anyone who’s ever read a comic where Batman falls in love with someone could’ve predicted easily. It’s decent, if not great, and I am curious to see what Smith and Flanagan do next.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4: Batman the cowboy! Honestly, that should be all you need to know, but it’s not really all that great, I’m sad to say. Morrison’s script is solid enough, though I’m not sure what the hell is going on with the bad guys, why they’re doing what they do, or anything like that. Georges Jeanty’s art is pretty awful; characters aren’t consistently rendered, adults often look like children in terms of stature and appearance, and it’s hard to tell characters apart sometimes. I’m definitely going to have to re-read this (and, really, the whole series) to truly be able to follow what all’s happening.

I also picked up two trades: X-Men: S.W.O.R.D. and Cowboys and Aliens. S.W.O.R.D. is pretty good so far; I’m definitely becoming a fan of Kieron Gillen’s work. I haven’t dug into Cowboys and Aliens yet, but it was only $4.99 for a pretty substantial chunk of comic (way longer than the same-priced Batman: Widening Gyre #6), and it’s written by Fred Van Lente.

The Pull List – June 9th

Holy crap, did I have a pile of books waiting for me this week! Let’s get to it!

S.H.I.E.L.D. #2: Refusing to answer questions but raising plenty of new ones, this comic jumps right in and gives us a Leonardo da Vinci who is, as he mentions in the last line of the book, tired of how “these men have stood on my shoulders for far too long.” Hickman’s script is tight and fun (though the text page that pops up 2/3 of the way through? That was weird. Is that a thing of his?), and Dustin Weaver’s art is absolutely beautiful: detailed, sharp, and well-rendered. Definitely interested to see where this goes next.

Batman #700: A special anniversary issue featuring a series of interconnecting stories written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by the likes of Andy Kubert and Frank Quitely. In a story that spans many years and several Batmen, we essentially get a story that expresses Morrison’s recurring theme during his run on the various Batman titles: no matter what, there will always be a Batman. Most of the art is beautiful (Quitely’s fight scene against the Mutants gang is particularly awesome), though it’s jarring when Quitely’s stuff ends with several pages left to go in his section and he’s replaced by the talented-but-quite-different Scott Kolins.

Secret Six #22: Holy crap. If this comic wants you to come away with any sort of message, it’s simply this: do not mess with Catman. He will mess you up seriously, and possibly just cold throw your old ass through a stained-glass window. His search for his son and vengeance ends in a way that makes sense, and we get to see just how dedicated he is to his son. Meanwhile, there’s a great knock-down between Scandal Savage and an Etrigan-channeling Black Alice (which features the best genitalia-related rhyme I’ve ever heard, though there’s a pretty short field in that race) and a great moment for Ragdoll. If you aren’t reading this comic, there’s something wrong with you. Granted, if you are reading this comic, there’s still probably something wrong with you.

Justice League: Generation Lost #3: I keep really wanting to like this book, but something’s just not clicking. The art is fine, the plot of the book is interesting enough, and I’m invested in the characters and all. It’s just…I dunno, maybe it’s Winnick’s dialogue (though Giffen’s breakdowns are still great and keep the action moving briskly), maybe it’s that I keep expecting the plot to actually start going somewhere. I dunno. We’ll just have to see where all this goes.

Invincible Iron Man #27: There’s a whole lot of standing around and talking again. It kinda feels a bit too much like last issue. We do finally get some action in Japan between Detroit Steel and some nameless NBGWG (Nameless Bad Guys With Guns), and some nice character moments from the likes of Jim Rhodes and Pepper Potts, but I’m really hoping next issue kicks up the action a bit.

Prince of Power #2: Knock-down, drag-out fight between Amadeus Cho and Thor! So many hilarious sound effects (including a whole slew of IKEA-related ones during the fight with Thor), some great character moments (Cho telling Thor off is fantastic), and some clever plotting and dialogue…this is everything I want from a comic. Honestly, Pak and Van Lente are like the Giffen and DeMatties of the 2000s, finding that perfect balance between comedy and drama.

Booster Gold #33: Speaking of Giffen and DeMatties, this issue finds Booster trying to find evidence in the good ol’ JLI days to prove Max Lord exists, with less than ideal results. We do get a great exchange between Booster and Cyborg near the beginning of the issue, though, that perfectly sums up my feelings about the JLI and why treating the Leaguers from that period as has-beens and also-rans doesn’t do them…well, justice. Definitely a good read.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #2: I still wanna see the end of the Ellis/Jimenez story, but this one is picking up a bit from the rather lackluster first issue. It’s still not great, but there’s an element of fun to the story that wasn’t there in the first issue. The art’s kinda grown on me some, too, though I’d still prefer something more superhero-y. The biggest problem with the book is that it feels basically like a retread of every X-Men book Ellis has written since jumping onto Astonishing X-Men: the X-Men hear about the possibility that new mutants are surfacing, so they go to investigate even though they are skeptical. Turns out there aren’t really new mutants showing up/being born, something else is going on, so sad. Admittedly, though, this issue does draw a connection between the current miniseries and Ellis’s first story on the Astonishing title, Ghost Box, but I’m not sure it’s enough to really hold my interest. We’ll see what I think next issue.

Doom Patrol #11: Doom Patrol vs. the Front Men! There’s some fun things here, though less zaniness than I’d expect from a comic featuring Ambush Bug, and the idea of the Front Men is pretty interesting. I get the feeling I’m supposed to recognize the true enemy revealed at the end of the issue, but I’m not up enough on my Doom Patrol lore to really know for certain. There’s definitely plenty going on in this book.

As far as trades are concerned, I grabbed the latest Hellboy collection, The Crooked Man and Other Stories. It includes The Chapel of Moloch, the most recent Hellboy story drawn by Mignola himself. When you throw in stories drawn by Richard Corben and Duncan Fegredo as well, it’s too good to pass up.

The Pull List – May 12th

It’s Saturday and I’m sitting here with quite a stack of new comics, so let’s get to it, shall we?

I will say it’s interesting that, of the 6 single issues I pulled this week, only one of them isn’t a #1. Most of them are miniseries, too. Strange.

Birds of Prey #1: Gail Simone’s basically the reason I read comics, so a return to her career-making Birds of Prey title is a welcome thing indeed. And it gets off to a decent start: we get solid introductions, some of Simone’s trademark dialogue, and the caption boxes (mostly from Black Canary) work well. I’m not so thrilled with Hawk and Dove, mostly because they don’t seem to be as deep in terms of characterization as the rest of the team. Admittedly, we’ve had the other characters on the team (Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, and Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk) for a considerably longer period of time; there’s been more time for them to receive good characterization. However, just the characters of Hawk and Dove kinda bore me. They seem like they’re completely defined by their superhero identities, rather than those superhero identities being an extension of who they are. Rather, it seems that, with Hawk and Dove, they are defined only by their superhero identities: Hawk sees himself as a soldier of God who came back to life to do God’s work (i.e., punch things), while Dove is all about trying to find peaceful solutions to situations. I’ve got faith in Gail Simone, though, so I’m sure she’ll do something worthwhile with these characters. On another note, Ed Benes turns in some decent art. I know he’s a divisive artist in the comics community, but he seemed to keep the cheesecake shots to a minimum here, and his storytelling is solid throughout. Definitely a great “let’s get the band back together” issue, and one where you surprisingly don’t have to know much about what’s come before to appreciate what’s going on now.

Justice League: Generation Lost #1: I’m a sucker for anything connected to the old JLI, so this was sort of a no-brainer. Tony Harris’s cover is pretty terrible (apparently Booster Gold is portrayed here by Michael Keaton?), but the art inside is Aaron Lopresti (who’d been doing the art for most of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run), so that’s cool. We’ve got a solid set-up in this issue, Maxwell Lord is established as a pretty credible threat (his ploy to make the world forget him is downright awesome, I think), and we get a reason why our four heroes (all former JLI members) are the only ones who can really stop him. I’m not sure how they’re going to make this last for twenty-some issues, but I’ll be there to find out. A minor quibble with the book: someone in editorial fell down on the job, ’cause there’s a half dozen pretty glaring typos, one in the first sentence in the book. That’s pretty ridiculous.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1: We still haven’t seen the conclusion to Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez’s Astonishing X-Men story, but here’s the title being relaunched with Ellis and a new artist, Kaare Andrews, with a similar name to the Ellis/Jimenez arc but with several key differences. The art in this title really bugged me; it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t fit. And the new uniforms? Even with Wolverine’s mention of the fact that it’s a “G.I. Joe uniform of the week,” it’s still pretty bad. They look like a frat out for a day hike. All that aside, it’s still a Warren Ellis comic, but it feels like one we’ve read a dozen times before already. Usually, I don’t mind that, ’cause he manages to put a unique spin on his favorite themes, but this just feels like a retread. I’ll give it another issue to see if I want to keep with it until the end of the miniseries, but right now it’s not looking favorable.

Booster Gold #32: The only non-#1 in my pull list this week, and it kicks off the start of a new creative team on the title. I enjoyed Dan Jurgens’s run on the book; it felt like solid superhero goodness with a sense of fun about it, but it also had a serious tone that I could appreciate. The new Booster Gold is being written by the Giffen/DeMatteis team, and it comes out exactly as you’d think it would with that pairing. There are plenty of funny moments, but don’t forget these guys can bring the serious, too. And they do: when Booster is sent to the planet Daxam right as Darkseid is beginning a war on the planet, things get pretty tense, especially when the Emerald Empress shows up. Giffen and DeMatteis have all the most gruesome stuff happen off-panel, but that just adds to the emotional gut-punch of finding out what’s happened. It’s brutal, but not in the way that dissecting a hero and presenting him to his enemy in a shoebox is (yes, I’m pissed about that). All in all, I think this is definitely a title I’m going to be happy with. If you’ve liked the other stuff this writing team has done in the past, you’ll enjoy this. If you haven’t…well, what’s wrong with you? Do you not like good comics?

Prince of Power #1: Speaking of a writing team that can bring the funny and the serious in equal parts, we’ve got Pak and Van Lente’s latest entry in the saga of the Olympus Pantheon. This time, we’re following Amadeus Cho, Hercules’s former kid sidekick, now stepping up to be a hero in his own right. And Cho is doing pretty awesome. He fights a giant supercriminal/monster thing with Herc’s mace, he continues his search for the fallen Hercules (whom he believes to be simply lost in a parallel universe rather than dead), and we get some of the great sound effects we’ve come to love from these guys (“REDDSHERT” being my favorite, as he hits Vali Halfling’s cannon fodder with the mace). This isn’t necessarily new-reader friendly, though Pak and Van Lente do go out of their way to bring everyone up to speed in a manner that doesn’t involve a huge data-dump/exposition and instead uses cleverly-written and well-placed captions to give you what you need to know about characters and situations. This is gonna be a fun ride.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1: Bruce Wayne is a badass. You get that from the first moment you see him in this book, standing shirtless at the mouth of the cave he ended up in back at the end of Final Crisis. The plot is fairly straightforward: Batman is found by a group of cavemen, another group of cavemen led by Vandal Savage come in and kill the group Bruce was hanging out with, and Bruce goes all prehistoric asskicker on them. Bruce doesn’t seem to be quite right at the moment, as though he’s in a daze and doesn’t quite fully realize who he is or what’s happening, but it doesn’t stop him from being a hero (or from inspiring a cavelad to don a domino mask, make a shield out of Batman’s shirt, and assist him like a good Robin does). The art in this book is fantastic, and part of me wishes Chris Sprouse was going to do the art for the whole miniseries. Then I see the list of guys coming up to do the art for the rest of the issues, and I’m okay with it.

I also picked up the latest Wonder Woman trade, Warkiller, this week. I love me some Gail Simone Wonder Woman, even if I feel it’s probably one of her weaker works overall (then again, I may just have an unhealthy love of her other stuff, and her Wonder Woman – while excellent – just isn’t as awesome as Welcome to Tranquility. Or her Secret Six work. Or the All-New Atom. Or Birds of Prey. It’s just not fair; it’s like comparing George Harrison’s Beatles songs to Lennon and McCartney’s Beatles songs. Sure, Harrison’s stuff is awesome, but the Lennon/McCartney stuff is just more awesome. In this case, Simone is Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. But not Ringo).